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Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Page: 8484

Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (10:51): I will address just a few issues. This has been part of this debate for some time, and the way in which this is dealt with under this package before the Senate is to pick up some of the changes in this regard which were included under the government's past package, the CPRS, and then some additional measures in relation to the Climate Change Authority. I will briefly scope those.

First, the government will take additional action into account when setting caps on pollution. Then of course companies and individuals can choose to buy and cancel permits issued under the carbon pricing mechanism or the carbon farming initiative; that would obviously have the effect of reducing the number of permits and credits available in the market. The government will establish a tax deductible pledge fund to help individuals access the carbon market, and the contributions to that fund will be used to buy Australian carbon permits, CFI credits and international units to be cancelled. Purchasers of accredited green power generated from January 2010 will be treated as additional to the national emissions reductions target. Accredited green power purchases from 1 July 2012 will also be taken into account when setting pollution caps. I think three of the four of those are essentially as per the previous legislation, obviously with the addition of the Carbon Farming Initiative.

The bill also requires—I think Senator Milne was referencing this—the authority to take voluntary action into account when recommending the level of the pollution cap. This would require the authority to assess voluntary action and its impact on emissions levels. There are provisions in the legislation requiring public consultation and timely publication of reports by the authority. The government has also committed to reviewing the methodology for measuring additional forms of voluntary action. I do, however, want to emphasise—in case there was any lack of clarity—that the bill also specifies that voluntary action is a matter for the minister to consider when setting the caps. Whilst obviously the authority provides the advice with the transparency that we have outlined, ultimately it would be a matter for the government of the day as to how that would be given effect. Given this framework we do not support Senator Xenophon's amendments.